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How Your Location Impacts Your Over-the-Air TV Reception

As we mentioned in our Over-the-Air (OTA) TV antenna buyer’s guide, another key factor to cord cutting success is knowing the location of your local broadcast TV towers in relation to your home. 

Your local TV channels are broadcast via radio waves from huge transmitter towers located in most major cities and towns across North America.

The closer you live to these towers, the better your Over-the-Air TV reception will be, and the more you'll be able to enjoy your Tablo OTA DVR.



Line-of-Sight & Proximity to Local Broadcast TV Towers

tablo antenna line of sight

OTA TV signals are distributed via the concept of line-of-sight.

This means ideal TV reception occurs when your TV antenna is in close proximity to the local transmitter towers and can 'see' them with minimal or no obstructions.

As you get further away from your local TV towers, the more likely that interference, obstructions, and even the curvature of the earth will impact your ability to receive OTA TV signals.

This means ideal reception areas for antenna TV are within 35 miles of your local broadcast towers.

However, depending on your antenna equipment, placement, and other factors, you can still receive signals from towers further afield.

To find out how far away your local broadcast towers are from your home, head over to and enter your address and zip code for a detailed report. results

In the example above (which is an address in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, IL) you’ll see that most local channels are broadcast from towers downtown, about 12 miles away.



OTA Channel Selection in Your Location

The selection of channels you can receive with a TV antenna depends on whether a broadcaster in your area distributes the signal for that channel.

For example, in California’s San Francisco Bay Area you could receive over 100 OTA TV stations, whereas if you live in the middle of the Nevada desert - near the famed Area 51 – you’re more likely to find an alien than an OTA TV signal.

However, in most cities you’ll be able to receive OTA TV signals from the main national broadcasters (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, and the CW in the US and in Canada CBC, CTV, CityTV, and Global.)

Those living in urban areas near the US/Canada border - like in Detroit – may be lucky enough to receive TV signals from both countries, providing a much larger channel selection.


To find out exactly what OTA TV channels are available in your area, check out our TV channel locator service.

tablo channel locator


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